THERE are growing fears Oxford's bike theft 'epidemic' is spiralling out of control after yet another crime went unpunished.

The city is among the worst areas in Britain for the proportion of cycles snatched and a Summertown mum has spoken out after her teenage son fell victim.

The youngster's bike was stolen from the grounds of Cherwell School in March, with the perpetrator caught on CCTV.

But the case has now been dropped twice after the images were deemed "too grainy" to identify the suspect.

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The mum-of-two, who has asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, believes it is too easy for bike thieves to avoid punishment.

She said: “The level of bike thefts is insane and nothing’s going to change.

“I’m not suggesting someone who steals a bike should go to prison, but I do believe in justice being seen to be done.

“It’s getting worse, not better, and you have to make people feel confident that if they’re taking any bike into Oxford they’ll be safe."

The case was initially dropped in June as the footage was “insufficient to ID the suspect for the purposes of the court”.

It was picked up again and the defendant charged with two counts of theft at Oxford Magistrates’ Court earlier this month, but both were dismissed.

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A spokesperson for the Crown Prosecution Service said: “The district judge took the decision to dismiss proceedings against the defendant as a result of issues raised around CCTV images and identification.

“Without this CCTV material there was no longer a realistic prospect of a conviction and we respect the decision made by the judge to dismiss the case.”

Oxford had the highest proportion of bike thefts in Britain in 2018/19, with 2,050 incidents documented – one for every 81 people.

There has been a huge increase in cycling across the country since lockdown was imposed in March, with some studies claiming a 300 per cent rise.

Alison Hill, chair of Cyclox – an Oxford charity that campaigns to get more people into cycling – admits this could indirectly have led to more thefts.

Oxford Mail:

She said: “It appears to have got much worse during the pandemic, partly because more people are out on bikes.

“I feel very sorry for the victims, because they're costly items to buy so it can put people off cycling for life.

“I’ve heard anecdotal evidence of people being anxious about taking their bike into town.”

Ms Hill called for cycle hangars – street-side lockers where people can keep their bikes – to be deployed in Oxford as a more secure storage facility.

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Cyclox also recommends owners take preventative measures, including making cycles look unattractive to thieves.

An online petition urging Oxford City Council to do more to help people protect their bikes closed on October 1 and gained 180 signatures.

It said: “We the undersigned petition the council to make it safe to leave bicycles locked up in the city centre without the constant spectre of theft, and do more to discourage bike theft in Oxford more generally."